Circadian insights into dopamine mechanisms

Neuroscience. 2014 Dec 12;282:230-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.07.081. Epub 2014 Oct 2.


Almost every physiological or behavioral process in mammals follows rhythmic patterns, which depend mainly on a master circadian clock located in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The dopaminergic (DAergic) system in the brain is principally implicated in motor functions, motivation and drug intake. Interestingly, DA-related parameters and behaviors linked to the motivational and arousal states, show daily rhythms that could be regulated by the SCN or by extra-SCN circadian oscillator(s) modulating DAergic systems. Here we examine what is currently understood about the anatomical and functional central multi-oscillatory circadian system, highlighting how the main SCN clock communicates timing information with other brain clocks to regulate the DAergic system and conversely, how DAergic cues may have feedback effects on the SCN. These studies give new insights into the role of the brain circadian system in DA-related neurologic pathologies, such as Parkinson's disease, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder and drug addiction.

Keywords: addiction; circadian; dopamine; feeding; methamphetamine; reward.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / metabolism
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / physiology*


  • Dopamine